Ever since Mike Jankowski was a young kid he’s always had a love for sports. Basketball, football, track, golf, it didn’t matter. Sports are in his blood. Mike not only loved the thrill of the game, he loved being a part of something bigger than himself—being part of a team—working together towards the same goal was something Mike was born to do.
Growing up, Mike always looked up to his older brother. His brother went to Purdue, so Mike went to Purdue. His brother studied construction management, and so did Mike. At the end of his sophomore year at Purdue his family moved to Philadelphia. At that point, Mike really questioned the idea of finishing his degree in construction management and considered changing his major. However, he found himself moving back to Indiana, getting and finishing his degree in construction management at Purdue.
Upon graduation, Mike would find himself working for a small design/build general contractor in Indianapolis, then Ft. Wayne, for the next few years. He was then offered a job with Danis, a large commercial general contractor in Cincinnati, Ohio and AL. Neyer, Inc, a real estate developer/general contractor. Mike would call Ohio home for the next 12 years. At the end of 2006, Mike was recruited by Lauth Property Group to relocate back to Indianapolis, this time with his wife and four kids. With the support of his family, Mike was headed back to the Hoosier state where he grew up.
In 2008 the well-publicized economic downturn hit and by the end of the year Mike would find himself unemployed for the first time. At this point in Mike’s career he really thought about getting out of the construction business. When asked why he stayed, he said “I worked hard to where I had gotten in the industry and still really enjoyed the idea of helping clients design and build what they envisioned.” This is what kept Mike going. So, instead of standing in the unemployment line like many others, Mike saw it as an opportunity to start his own consulting business—which he did for the next couple of years.
While consulting, a friend told Mike he needed to meet a guy named Bob Kort, who was looking for a Project Manager. He interviewed first with Bob’s dad, Steve Kort (for those of you who know Steve, this next part will be no surprise). Steve took one look at Mike’s resume, looked at it again and said, “Why are you even here? We can’t afford you.” (Referring to Mike’s experience at larger companies). Mike’s response was, “I’m here because I’ve worked for small companies, medium companies and I’ve worked for really large companies. I’m looking for a smaller more intimate company that wants to grow.” He then interviewed with Bob, shared his thoughts and vision to grow Kort Builders. One thing lead to another and he came to work for Kort. He knew Bob had a great reputation, loyal clients and employees and wanted to grow the business—it was a great fit. Bob said, “Hiring Mike was a no brainer as his experience and longevity in the business was vast. His attitude to grow the business at Kort could help take us to new levels. It’s been great watching him succeed in his career, and life, these past 5 years.”
Today, Mike is Vice President of Operations at Kort Builders and is going into his 26th year in commercial construction. When asked why he keeps doing what he’s doing, when at one point he considered leaving the profession, he said, “I really enjoy developing and creating teams, bringing all the parts and pieces together—being a teacher and a coach.” Mike looks back on those times when he played organized sports and the coaches and teachers that influenced his life, and he wants to help and mentor others in his career—he wants to give back. Doing what he does at Kort Builders, working with clients, project managers, superintendents, contractors and vendors, he sees himself as a head coach, and it takes an entire team to win. Mike said, “I like the comradery with the contractors and vendors, and the trust within the team.”
Proudest Career Moment: In 2001, Mike was awarded Project Manager of the Year by the Cincinnati Sub Contractors Association. Out of the 3 nominees, he was the youngest nominee. It was the first time he had ever had to give an impromptu speech. (He said he killed it.)
Proudest Personal Moment: Seeing his kids being born. He would have 10 more kids if he could.
Career Advice: Be true to yourself even when it hurts a little.